Chief Sam Thornton began his career in the fire service as a volunteer in December of 1995 with what is now known as the Highland Volunteer Fire Department. In February of 1998 Chief Thornton became a paid-on-call member with the City of Portland Fire Department. Chief Thornton became a full-time career firefighter with the city in September of 1998. Since beginning his career Chief Thornton has served as a Firefighter/Engineer until 2007, Captain from 2007 to 2015, Assistant Chief from 2015 – 2020 and became Chief of the Fire Department on September 14, 2020.
Chief Thornton is a 1996 graduate from Portland High School and has an AAS in Fire Science from Volunteer State Community College. He is a certified Fire Inspector and Emergency Medical Technician – Basic along with various other professional certifications.
Chief Thornton has been an active member in the community by coaching multiple sport teams through the years and is an active member in the local church he worships at. He also enjoys bicycling in the surrounding area for exercise. He has been married to his wife Beth (a Portland High School math teacher) for over 25 years and both are enjoying their new titles of grandparents since the fall of 2019.